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«The Role of the Performing Arts in Postwar Phoenix, Arizona: Patrons, Performers, and the Public by Michelle Lynne Bickert A Thesis Presented in ...»

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Live Music Capital of the World.194 According to Florida’s theory, Phoenix will be unable to truly compete for the creative workforce it needs until it fully develops a vibrant culture. In a 2002 interview Florida bluntly stated, “You cannot get a technologically innovative place unless it’s open to weirdness, eccentricity and difference.”195 The Valley’s expansion over the past six decades has resulted in changing demographics and increased diversity, leading to varied tastes among residents and higher expectations given Phoenix’s major city status. The old and young segments of the population have grown faster than the working-age population, and have shown more interest in settling in the city than the suburbs, signaling a return to downtown. The arrival of ASU’s downtown campus in 2005 spurred residential development, attracting young professionals, single or married without children.196 In 2010 66.4 percent of Phoenix families were not living with their own children under age eighteen, indicating a majority were either not having children, or had grown children.197 Between 2000 and 2010, the population of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) declined at a far steeper rate in areas forty to eighty miles outside the nation’s fifty largest cities than Richard Florida and Gary Gates, “Technology and Tolerance: The Importance of Diversity to High-Technology Growth,” in The City as an Entertainment Machine, ed.

Terry Nichols Clark (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004), 200-214.

Ibid., 213; Eakin, “Cities and Their New Elite.” Ginger D. Richardson and John Stearns, “Downtown Rocks: Area is Abuzz with Lofty Plans,” Arizona Republic, May 15, 2005.

“American Fact Finder: Phoenix city, Arizona,” U.S. Census Bureau, accessed November 10, 2013, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk.

within five miles of the center.198 The city’s 2004 downtown redevelopment plan included building to attract “affluent and ‘cool’” baby boomers.199 Retired baby boomers are less interested in golf and retirement communities and are looking to move into downtown apartments instead, packing the city with a blend of retirees and young professionals looking for varied entertainment. Both of these groups typically attend performing arts functions more than young families, driving the demand for downtown development and urban arts and culture.

Phoenix not only had residents with new tastes, but new residents representing diverse backgrounds. Phoenix’s Hispanic community grew 90 percent between 1990 and 2000 and by 2010 comprised 40.8 percent of the city’s population.200 Their influence was hard to ignore, accounting for $15 billion in the state’s economy in 2008. Foreign-born residents accounted for 14.1 percent of the population, marking the region a new immigrant gateway and contributing to one of the benchmarks Florida and Gates attribute to high-tech cities.201 Regarding the biggest indicator of tolerance and technology, sameNancy Keates, “Hip, Urban, Middle Aged,” Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2013.

Downtown Phoenix: A Strategic Vision and Blueprint for the Future (Phoenix:

City of Phoenix, 2004), 15-16.

Betsy Guzman, “The Hispanic Population: Census 2000 Brief,” U. S. Census Bureau (Washington, D. C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2001)

http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/c2kbr01-3.pdf, 7; “State and County Quick Facts:

Phoenix (city), Arizona,” US Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04/0455000.html.

Grady Gammage, Jr., John Stuart Hall, Robert E. Lang, Rob Melnick, and Nancy Welch, Megapolitan: Arizona’s Sun Corridor (Phoenix: Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 2008), 26; Nancy Welch, Suzanne Taylor, Walter Valdivia, Patricia Gober, sex couples, the Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey reported an estimated 11,658 same sex couples in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, with gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) residents comprising 4.8 percent of the region’s population.

This was slightly higher than the 4.5 percent of GLB residents in the state. Phoenix had the largest concentration of GLB individuals at 6.4 percent.202 The Valley’s shifting demographics reflected the potential for cultural vibrancy and attracting creative workers, and impacted programming decisions for arts and cultural organizations.

Despite this increased demographic diversity, the Valley has been segregated by income and ethnicity, making it difficult to tout these figures as meaningful. Income and education levels were highest in the Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Ahwatukee Foothills areas, while Latinos were strongly concentrated in the southern part of the Valley with non-Hispanic white residents populating the north (the division marks not only the Valley but largely the state too). Education, age, and income have been strong indicators of arts and culture participation, but as definitions of culture and attitudes towards it changed, levels of participation among Valley residents were becoming better reflections of the region’s diversity.203 Dwight Walth, and Nancy Dallett, A Place for Arts and Culture: A Maricopa County Overview (Phoenix: Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 2003), 7.

Gary J. Gates, “Same-sex Couples and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Population:





New Estimates from the American Community Survey,” The Williams Institute, October 2006, 14.

Gammage et. al., Megapolitan, 26-30; Adrian Ellis, Joe Hill, and Jeanne Bouhey, The Arts in Arizona: A Discussion Document (Phoenix: AEA Consulting, 2002, 2; Welch et. al., A Place for Arts and Culture, ii-iii.

The New Cultural Vision for Phoenix In order to continue Phoenix’s momentum in the high-tech and bioscience industry, state and local governments have researched and began implementing policies that encouraged cultural vibrancy and demonstrated the performing arts’ economic value.

Various organizations and institutes representing local government, education, the arts and culture community, and high-tech research have partnered to research the Valley’s culture, its impact, and how it compared to other cities since the 1990s. The Maricopa Regional Arts and Culture Task Force formed in 2003 to perform comprehensive research on the status of arts and culture in the Valley. Flinn Foundation executive director John Murphy and Virginia G. Piper president and chief executive officer Judy Jolley Mohraz recognized knowledge workers require a rich cultural atmosphere and, encouraged by the arrival of the Phoenix Bioscience Center, joined other nonprofits in learning how to attract more creative employees, underwriting over a quarter million dollars in expenses for the task force. The nonprofits came from varied backgrounds, including: the Flinn Foundation, a grantmaking organization supporting bioscience research, arts, education, and civic leadership development; the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, honoring the philanthropic legacy of Motorola founder Paul Galvin’s widow; and Prescott nonprofits the Margaret T. Morris Foundation and J. W. Kieckhefer Foundation.204 ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy prepared the report with representatives from the school’s Department of Geography and Public History Program and from the Phoenix Arts Commission. The broad range of organizations interested in learning how they could improve the arts and culture in the Valley demonstrated Michael Lacey, “Us vs. Them,” Phoenix New Times, October 2, 2002.

community members, funders, and civic leaders understood how arts and culture impact the overall quality of life in the Valley beyond an entity’s entertainment value. The study’s findings informed other policy recommendations from the Morrison Institute, and private philanthropies, arts leaders, schools, and government have worked together to continue creating a strong body of literature since the 2000s, providing new arguments for arts support.

The reports consistently identified a few key areas of cultural improvement for the city, county, and state. Government, civic, education, and arts and culture leaders have been implementing the strategies and policies since the 1990s. Both the postwar arguments and those employed in the 1990s and 2000s encouraged developing the arts to stimulate economic growth, but the strategy has evolved to highlight the arts as its own intrinsically valuable economic sector. This new strategy strengthened support for the performing arts by explicitly demonstrating its value and augmented the original purpose of arts development, which was creating a cultured city by developing quality organizations, attracting committed patrons, and educating an appreciative audience. By implementing these components leaders hoped to create a stronger sense of community and a clear cultural identity, making Phoenix a place residents and business want to be.

The city (and state) adopted the arguments found in these reports, including Florida’s theory, and have increased their role in supporting the arts as well as the role of the arts in the city’s overall development. What follows are some of the major findings and how the city applied the information.

Arts and Culture Are Intrinsically Valuable After decades of struggling to demonstrate worth and find stable support, performing arts groups began arguing they are significant to the city not only culturally, but also economically. Changing attitudes about the sector’s importance encouraged groups, patrons, and the government to monitor how much these ventures contributed to the economy. Whereas arts and culture was once seen as an extra civic feature, groups, government, and donors now understood its intrinsic value. In fiscal year 2010, Phoenix nonprofit arts organizations had $165 million total economic impact of expenditures and contributed $15.2 million in tax revenue to local and state governments. Resident audience members (85.2 percent of attendees) spent an average $22.15 per person while nonresidents (14.8 percent of attendees) spent $51.85 per person, totaling $96.7 million spent at Phoenix arts and cultural events.205 As of 2010 the state arts and culture industry hosted 11,600 organizations utilizing 47, 712 employees; the performing arts had 1,754 organizations employing 9,031 people.206 It is difficult to chart long-term economic impact because organizations only recently began tracking the data, and because it is hard to define which businesses fit the category. Recent reports used varied definitions of art and culture and used different categories and measurements, like including sporting 60 of Phoenix’s 141 eligible institutions participated in the study. “Arts & Economic Prosperity IV National Statistical Report,” Americans for the Arts (Washington, D.C.: Americans for the Arts, 2012), B-51, B-61, B-135, B-145, http://www.americansforthearts.org/pdf/information_services/research/services/economic _impact/aepiv/NationalStatisticalReport.pdf.

Creative Industries: Business and Employment in the Arts (Washington, D.C.:

Americans for the Arts, 2011), http://www.americansforthearts.org/information_services/research/services/creative_indu stries/default.asp.

events with the performing arts, or excluding for-profit institutions from data. However, research in the past two decades illustrated arts and cultural organizations were economically beneficial and signaled the increased recognition by supporters, government, the public, and groups that the arts are important to Phoenix beyond indicating urban status.

Additionally, arts and culture bolstered tourism, a vital component of the Valley and state’s economy. In 2012, Maricopa County visitors spent $1.1 billion on arts, entertainment, and recreation.207 By 2003, one third of the area’s three hundred arts and culture organizations were considered regional, attracting new dollars to the region and continuing the infrastructure and status necessary to maintain services and growth.

Institutions like the Arizona Theatre Company, The Heard Museum, and Desert Botanical Garden featured prominently in Arizona’s tourism.208 Despite being a key component of one of the city’s top industries, most arts and cultural organizations struggled to find a stable funding base; however, arts supporters used these arguments to attract more public and private funding, altering the argument from using the performing arts to indirectly stimulate other industries to bolstering arts and culture so they become a destination and economic driver.

Quality Performing Arts Require Private and Government Support Despite their economic impact, nonprofit arts organizations inherently operate at a loss and continue to require public and private support. Most of an institution’s earned “Arizona Travel Data,” Dean Runyan Associates, accessed November 3, 2012, http://www.deanrunyan.com/AZTravelImpacts/AZTravelImpacts.html.

Welch et. al., A Place for Arts and Culture, 13.

income comes from ticket sales, and most donations are from individuals.209 Although they earn substantial revenue from ticket sales, concessions, subscriptions, memberships, and contracted services, the income insufficiently covers operating costs. Valley organizations utilized a broad base of funding to compensate for this loss, drawing from public and private sources to continue operating. Private donations from individuals, corporations, and philanthropic foundations accounted for $123.4 million in contributed revenue, comprising the bulk of institutions’ earned revenue.210 Still, it is harder for Arizona institutions to court private donors. Arizona’s groups are relatively young, and their relationships to philanthropists are still forming. Most of the larger local businesses that once supported the PLT and PSO either closed or were absorbed by national firms not tied to the community beginning in the 1970s. Many performing arts fans were not from the Valley or only lived there in the winter, and still supported their home institutions. The Maricopa Regional Task Force found compared to ten like-sized cities, Phoenix ranked last in private donations.211 The reports argued increasing government support would improve institutions’ infrastructure, quality, and marketing, creating What Matters: The Maturing of Greater Phoenix (Phoenix: Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 2004), 44.

“The Scope of Our Arts & Cultural Sector,” Arizona Cultural Data Project, last modified June 1, 2013, http://www.azculturaldata.org/home.aspx.

Nancy Welch, Walt Plosila, and Marianne Clark, Vibrant Culture Thriving



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